Ranking the Top College Football Recruiting Flops of the Past 20 Years, Part 2

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 3, 2021

Ranking the Top College Football Recruiting Flops of the Past 20 Years, Part 2

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    Al Goldis/Associated Press

    Last college football offseason, B/R college football writer Brad Shepard put together his list of the 10 biggest recruiting busts of the last 20 years.

    That original article is worth a read, and here's the list of 10 he settled on:

    • 1. RB Bryce Brown, Tennessee
    • 2. WR Fred Rouse, Florida State
    • 3. QB Ryan Perrilloux, LSU/Jacksonville State
    • 4. LB Willie Williams, Miami
    • 5. QB Ben Olson, BYU/UCLA
    • 6. OL Tyler Love, Alabama
    • 7. RB Jason Gwaltney, West Virginia
    • 8. QB Max Browne, USC
    • 9. DE Byron Cowart, Auburn
    • 10. QB Mitch Mustain, Arkansas/USC

    With those 10 off-limits this time around, our mission was to add to the list of memorable busts with seven more players who fell short of lofty expectations.

    No player walks onto campus with more hype and pressure than a highly touted quarterback, and as a result, part two of these rankings is a quarterback-heavy group.

    Players are ranked based on where they fell in recruiting rankings and how they produced relative to expectations at the collegiate level.

7. RB Derrick Green, Michigan/TCU

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    Tony Ding/Associated Press

    Recruiting: 5-star, No. 4 RB, No. 27 overall in 2013 class

    Derrick Green was a 6'0", 220-pound power back who rushed for 1,285 yards and 20 touchdowns during his senior season at Hermitage High School in Richmond, Virginia.

    Thomas Tyner (Oregon), Kelvin Taylor (Florida) and Keith Ford (Oklahoma) were the only running back recruits ranked ahead of him in a 2013 recruiting class filled with underperforming backs, and the four combined for just one 1,000-yard season in college.

    That said, Green is an easy pick as the most disappointing of the bunch.

    He reported to spring camp at 240 pounds as a freshman and ended up behind Fitzgerald Toussaint on the depth chart, despite the hype.

    In three seasons at Michigan, injuries and ineffectiveness limited him to 212 carries for 898 yards.

    He transferred to TCU for his final year of eligibility, but he couldn't climb above third on the depth chart, finishing with 38 carries for 141 yards to close out his playing career.

6. DT Trenton Thompson, Georgia

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    Brett Davis/Associated Press

    Recruiting: 5-star, No. 1 DT, No. 1 overall in 2015 class

    The No. 1 recruit in the nation doesn't always wind up being the best player in his recruiting class, but he generally at least hears his name called in the NFL draft.

    That was not the case with Georgia defensive tackle Trenton Thompson.

    "The biggest disappointment was Thompson and his failure to meet expectations appears to be more about off-field commitment and focus than about talent," wrote Trey Scott of 247Sports in April 2018 while reassessing the 2015 recruiting class.

    After playing sparingly as a freshman, he had a productive sophomore year, tallying 64 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. He had an eight-tackle, three-sack game against TCU in the Liberty Bowl and looked like a player on the rise entering his junior season.

    Instead, injuries derailed his ascent and he ended up going undrafted after leaving early on the heels of a disappointing 2017 season.

    He was signed by the Cleveland Browns after the 2018 draft but didn't make the team, and he's been bouncing around various leagues ever since. He is currently a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the CFL.

5. QB Kyle Wright, Miami

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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    Recruiting: 5-star, No. 1 pro-style QB, No. 3 overall in 2003 class

    With a 6'4" frame and a big arm, Kyle Wright was the top pro-style quarterback recruit in the 2003 class ahead of Chris Leak (Florida), JaMarcus Russell (LSU) and Brady Quinn (Notre Dame).

    After redshirting as a freshman and then sitting behind senior Brock Berlin in 2004, Wright was handed the keys to the car for the Miami Hurricanes for the 2005 season.

    The team went 9-3 in his first season as the starter, but his overall production was lacking. He completed 58.6 percent of his passes for 2,403 yards with 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

    The following season, he went 5-4 as the starter to open the season before a thumb injury sent him to the sidelines, and when he returned to the starting role as a senior he had taken a clear step backward in his progression.

    He threw more interceptions (14) than touchdowns (12) and the Hurricanes struggled to a 5-7 record, bottoming out as a program from where they were when he arrived on campus.

    Of course, he's not solely to blame, but much more was expected in his four years than 5,835 passing yards with 38 touchdowns and 31 interceptions.

4. RB Darrell Scott, Colorado/South Florida

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Recruiting: 5-star, No. 1 RB, No. 4 overall in 2008 class

    The 2008 recruiting class featured three 5-star running backs, and all three would qualify for inclusion on this list with Darrell Scott (Colorado), Jermie Calhoun (Oklahoma) and Richard Samuel (Georgia) all falling short of expectations.

    With running back Hugh Charles graduating following a 1,000-yard season, Scott was a big get for coach Dan Hawkins as he worked to rebuild the Colorado program after moving up from Boise State in 2006.

    Unfortunately, Scott never lived up to being labeled the next LaDainian Tomlinson.

    He tallied 343 rushing yards at a pedestrian 3.9 yard-per-carry clip as a true freshman, and he slid down the depth chart as a sophomore with just 23 carries for 95 yards.

    After sitting out the 2010 season following a transfer to South Florida, he had a productive junior season as part of a trio of running backs for the Bulls. He finished with a team-high 814 rushing yards and five touchdowns and opted to declare for the NFL draft.

    He went undrafted, and despite signing with the Dallas Cowboys after the draft, he never played a snap in the NFL.

3. QB Rhett Bomar, Oklahoma/Sam Houston State

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    TY RUSSELL/Associated Press

    Recruiting: 5-star, No. 1 pro-style QB, No. 4 overall in 2004 class

    After back-to-back 12-win seasons under Heisman Trophy winner Jason White, Rhett Bomar had some big shoes to fill when he took over as Oklahoma's starting quarterback as a sophomore in 2005.

    As the top quarterback recruit in his class and one of the highest-graded quarterback recruits in the history of 247Sports recruiting scores, Bomar was expected to be the next big thing in Norman.

    He completed just 54.2 percent of his passes for 2,018 yards with 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while taking his licks in his first year as a starter, but his season ended on a high note when earned MVP honors in a Holiday Bowl victory over Oregon.

    However, his time in Oklahoma came to an abrupt halt that August when he was dismissed from the team after it was discovered that he had received payment from a car dealership for work he didn't perform.

    He transferred to Sam Houston State where he became the school's all-time passing leader with 5,564 yards in 19 games, and he was selected in the fifth round of the 2009 NFL draft by the New York Giants. Despite his potential and the second chance he seized at Sam Houston State, he never took a snap in the NFL.

2. QB Dayne Crist, Notre Dame/Kansas

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    JOE RAYMOND/Associated Press

    Recruiting: 5-star, No. 1 pro-style QB, No. 22 overall in 2008 class

    After watching from the sidelines his freshman year and serving as the backup to Jimmy Clausen his sophomore year, Dayne Crist was expected to be the guy for Notre Dame in 2010.

    He began the season as the starter and took the bulk of the snaps through the first eight games before he was benched following a 35-17 loss to Navy in which he threw a pair of interceptions.

    That would be his final start in a Fighting Irish uniform, as true freshman Tommy Rees started the rest of the way and seized the job in 2011.

    Crist transferred to Kansas for his final year of eligibility where he rejoined former Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis, but he completed just 47.7 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and nine interceptions for a 1-11 Jayhawks team to end his college career.

    All told, Crist threw for 3,640 yards with 20 touchdowns and 18 interceptions in his college career while going 5-10 as a starter.

1. WR Whitney Lewis, USC/Northern Iowa

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    Bryan Chan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

    Recruiting: 5-star, No. 1 WR, No. 2 overall in 2003 class

    During his senior season at St. Bonaventure High School in Ventura, California, Whitney Lewis caught 65 passes for 1,235 yards while adding another 1,059 rushing yards, scoring 42 total touchdowns to win California Mr. Football honors.

    That was enough to vault him to No. 2 in that year's recruiting class, behind only Florida State linebacker Ernie Sims. It was the same recruiting class that had previously mentioned Miami quarterback Kyle Wright at No. 3 overall.

    He caught just three passes for 27 yards as a true freshman, adding three carries for 11 yards, and he took a redshirt as a sophomore after he was ruled academically ineligible.

    From there, he transferred to Northern Iowa, and his football career ended short of the NFL.

    One of the most decorated players in California high school football history stayed in-state at USC and had a chance to be a superstar, but instead, he faded into the background while fellow 2003 recruit Reggie Bush became a legend.


    All stats courtesy of Sports Reference, while recruiting information comes via 247Sports.


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